Our house was only a few blocks from the school when we lived in the city, so I walked. But sometimes… seriously… sometimes I wonder if I hadn’t been a walker, whether they’d have made me ride the short bus.
I mean, from time to time I was a little sharper than a marble. Like, I knew some stuff.
For instance: you wouldn’t get warts from holding a frog. Can you even believe some of the things kids say? I think I always knew that just because kids said so, didn’t automatically mean a thing was true. So I fearlessly handled lots of frogs. I was just brave like that. But I did get a wart in fourth grade though. And I hadn’t messed with any amphibians for months. Well, maybe weeks. Or was it a few days…?
Here’s some other stuff I just knew:
- a watermelon wouldn’t grow in my stomach if I swallowed a seed
- it wouldn’t break my mother’s back if I stepped on a crack
- my eyes wouldn’t freeze that way if I crossed my eyes (sheesh!)
- finding a four-leaf clover was definitely good luck
- if you tossed a cat off the banister of the front porch, it would always, always land on its feet. Please don’t make me tell you how I knew that…
Then there were other things I just wasn’t all that sure about, so I hedged my bets: I avoided walking under ladders, I collected rabbit’s feet for good luck, and I tried like the Dickens to blow out all the candles with one breath so my wish would come true.
Finally, there was this third category. You know, those things about which I was utterly clueless. As in: half-baked, dim-witted, bubble-headed.
Take, for instance, all those times I punched holes in the lid of a glass jar with an ice pick so I could have a “night light” by catching lots of fireflies. Didn’t my tiny prisoners always quit lighting up after a few minutes, then fade to black shortly thereafter, never mind the few blades of grass and leaves thrown in to “keep them alive”? And despite this consistent grim outcome, didn’t I commit this harebrained stunt repeatedly? Sigh.
And then there was this really huge catalpa tree on our block. You know, one of those trees with the gigantic heart-shaped leaves and those pods that hang down from it like enormous green beans. The neighborhood kids called it an Indian Cigar Tree. Ooooo, a tree that grows cigars? Dad smokes cigars, and he is cool. Maybe I’ll be cool too if I smoke an Indian Cigar. (Okay, you can see where this is going, right?) Let’s just say, it wasn’t cool. Not one bit. Didn’t have the sense to realize the pods would have to dry before they would light. (And don’t ask who brought the lighter to this little soiree. Not me. No pockets, remember?)
And lastly, there was the time my dad brought home a really cool inflatable globe. This wonderful educational resource was probably 20 inches in diameter and spun on its axis. It totally commanded a spot in our dining room. Unfortunately, my dad’s desk was in proximity, in another corner of the dining room. On his bulletin board was a map with little brightly colored map pins indicating the location of every Goodyear dealer in his sales territory. I mean, these little map pins were so colorful… so I took a notion to put a cute little map pin in every star on that globe. You know, like Washington DC, London, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, Moscow… it was great.
Now, let me hasten to add: I was fully aware that a pin stuck in a balloon would make it pop. And I’d watched my dad and brother patch many inner tubes, so I knew that a nail in a tire caused it to deflate. I also knew that the globe was, well let’s see… inflated. So don’t ask me why I imagined that the globe would magically be okay after my little decorating party. I guess my elevator just didn’t get to the top floor on that one. Even though I never intended to kill our wonderful globe, my parents were, nonetheless, displeased. Putting it mildly.
I wish I could say I’ve outgrown all my miscalculations and blunders. But, regrettably, I still have my short bus moments. I figure if I ever stop having them, somebody had better call the undertaker. I’ll be dearly departed.